Any shooter who frequently uses high power rifle or handgun cartridges will get in line to buy a reloading press. Today, the high-performance ammunition on the dealer's shelves costs the avid shooter from $40 to $150 per 20-round box depending on the load and ammunition brand.
The single-stage reloading press offers the shooter the ability to shoot more for a whole lot less money than buying ammo over the counter. Now, if you're the shooter who only turns loose of a hand full of shots down range a year, this approach is most likely not in your game plans.
RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Press
Hornady Lock n Load
Lee Precision Breech Lock
Hornady Lock-N-Load Classic Ammo
Lymen Brass Smith Ideal C-Frame Press
RCBS Partner O-Frame Single Stage Press (Cast Aluminum)
RCBS Summit Single Stage
Best Single Stage Reloading Presses
1. RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Press
RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Press is the first reloading press up for consideration. This press is the well-known and preferred Rock Chucker Supreme single-stage press. I have never known the press to be called Supreme. All the units I have used have just been called Rock Chucker. Not that it makes any difference here, but it is interesting at any rate.
This press features a basic H frame design. With the extra forward support, the press is very strong and will last the user a lifetime. I have loaded several hundred rounds per year for the past 40 years with this press. I have never experienced any issues. That about says it all in my book.
The press produces a full four inches of ram bearing surface to rigidly support the one-inch diameter main ram. The long handle is powerful in terms of stroke and is made of heavy-duty solid tempered steel.
Primer seating is accomplished by a swing arm at the lower front of the press. Autoloading systems are available for this function, but hand application is very workable. Spent primers are ejected into a rounded catch tray. Dies are inserted one at a time according to the cartridge's stage in the reloading process.
Two or three die sets can be applied in this case. The press accommodates special bench rest level close tolerance dies as well as standard two die sets for general purpose use and hunting loads.
This press can also be upgraded with additional parts to a progressive reloading press auto function for different reloading stages.
In terms of price for what you're going to get for your money, this press is one of the very best reloading presses on the market today. You can’t lose with RCBS.
2. Hornady Lock n Load
Now, let's look at the type of press you'd like and discuss the difference between a single-stage and full auto progressive press reloader. Hornady offers the Lock N Load model reloading press. It carries a number of features that the single-stage unit will not offer the shooter.
This press is built by a first-rate company that I have done business with for many years. This unit is a lifetime system that is built of quality materials.
This press includes a quick-change die system for loading different calibers and cartridges. This is matched to a five-station bushing system that lets you change .223 to 45 caliber in less than five minutes.
Unlike a single-stage press, these autoloaders will do the work for you and produce a much higher volume of ammunition per hour when compared to the hand to hand single stage unit.
Be advised, however, if massive numbers of rounds are not required, this is not the best choice. Normal level light target and hunting load production can be produced with ease by a single-stage unit.
3. Lee Precision Breech Lock
Lee Precision is another company that has been manufacturing reloading presses for almost as long as I have been shooting. Over the years Lee press has been regarded as a real bargain for the casual reloader. Not to say it is less than others, this company offers complete die sets for all popular cartridges. The O frame Challenger Press model is well made, uses quick-change bushings, and loads cartridges with ease.
For the most part, buyers of the Lee Classicsystem like their presses. I can say due to the units I have here in the shop at Ballistics Research, the assessment of the press is right on the money.
The press features a larger than normal shell entry opening that makes it easy to set a case in place or withdraw it after priming or whatever stage you're in at the time. The press has a well-designed primer catcher that allows primers to be directed toward the trash can or other spent primer dump location.
The press uses a quick-change die system that leaves the die in direct alignment when reinstalling it for additional loading.
4. Hornady Lock-N-Load Classic Ammo
Now we have a Hornady Press Lock-N-Load system that operates as a single-stage unit. The price comes way down, but the hand loader needs to do a bit more work.
This is a classic H frame design unit that is built like a tank and will last for just about ever. The press comes with a primer catcher and three lock bushings. This pro series press aligns the cartridge correctly with the die. Bench rest class ammunition can be obtained from the press.
Shooting some time back, I met a shooter who had this press mounted on a board with a C clamp. He was loading bench rest rounds one at a time as he shot for accuracy groups at 100 yards. Yes, like other major press manufacturers, the Hornady single-stage unit is a very good choice in high-quality reloading equipment.
The main housing is made from solid cast iron and is angled to allow the user to have easy access to the ram point and die placement.
You can switch out dies in an instant, without losing the adjustments for bullet seating.
5. Forster CO-AX
Forster Co-Ax reloading press has some features that make it an option for the general purpose or precision reloader.
This press aligns better than a standard C frame press due to its dual guide rods. Shell hold jaws in this system are designed to float with the die and provide perfect alignment every time the arm goes down on a spent piece of brass.
The press is ambidextrous in design. There are no frame supports or primer arm to interfere or cause obstruction. The unique top priming device ensures that primers will be seated correctly.
The press is supplied with “S” jaws that hold .343 through .422 and .468/.562 shell rims.
6. Lymen Brass Smith Ideal C-Frame Press
At my reloading bench is mounted a Lyman reloading press that has seen more brass run across its die than most shooters will see in a lifetime of gunning. Installed on the workbench in 1964, this press when kept oiled and clean has been running for almost ever and still can turn out the product like the day it was installed.
Lyman is old school and has seen it all in terms of press designing and advanced development. This Brass Smith C frame is a strong unit that is well made and gets the job done in spades for the shooter.
The press is made from cast iron, features an ambidextrous handle design, and handles all currently offered rifle and pistol calibers. Because the dies are standard, even wildcat capitations can be addressed by this reloading press.
Its maximum cartridge length is 3.7”. It accepts all 7/8 x 14 dies which means the field is covered by this press. Ram diameter is a full once inch. The press is built to last. The press is constructed of heavy-duty solid steel and mounts to any reloading bench.
7. Dillon Precision
This press is a very heavy cast “O” frame unit that is built for profession use on or off the range.
The press has an auto primer feed for both large and small rifle/ handgun primers. This is nice because it keeps the surface area of the press base cleaner than old school models.
Everything on this press is detailed and precision fit for ultra-smooth operation. This unit has a nice powder-coated finish that will last for many years. The large five-inch frame opening makes seating a cartridge a snap without fumbling around and dropping the product off the bench.
The basic cast “O” frame is rock solid and aids in keeping die alignment correct all the time. No spring flex occurs as it does on some budget-priced models.
8. RCBS Partner O-Frame Single Stage Press (Cast Aluminum)
This press is lightweight and ideal for use when transporting to the range or an open dog town shooting field. Shooters that want that extra portable press at hand when bench rest shooting or other target related events need to look no further then this RCBS offering.
This press needs to be regarded as a secondary option to big, hard placed bench presses. Buying this unit as a primary unit could be a mistake. It all depends on the volume of ammunition you're going to turn out or if you want a lighter portable unit for range use. It is a buyer's call here.
This press even though built of aluminum is very workable. When I was a member of the Minnetonka Minnesota rifle club years ago, we had bench rest shooters roll up and hand load one at a time rounds all day long. This press is the answer when looking for a reloading press and still staying in the primary name brand market.
9. RCBS Summit Single Stage
If it seems like RCBS builds a lot of single stage reloading presses, you're right. This company has a lead in this area. Their lead is due to the demand for a simple but effective hand-loading ammunition product.
This unit features a compact swing up toggle link to the ram, so it stays out of the way when used in tight spaces.
Shooters say this is a great unit because it can do a solid job of leading or resizing. This unit is not a priming station. The press is a strong system and will do the job of much larger units and at times better. It is great for the truck end gate or for shooting bay at the range. You can build them as you need them.
The press has a massive 2-inch diameter ram and has full frontal access with nothing blocking your work. The press accepts one-inch die bushings.
This press would make an outstanding resizing system for larger heavy magnum cases or anything in the area of brass that requires some extra effort to bring into a resized condition.
Please be advised these press units (all of them) will not package power measures, specific die sets, or varied shell holders. Those are secondary tools that must be purchased separately.